Company Blamed For Salmonella Scare Ran Unlicensed Plainview Plant - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

2/3/09

Company Blamed For Salmonella Scare Ran Unlicensed Plainview Plant

NewsChannel 11 discovered the owners of a peanut company blamed for a national Salmonella outbreak ran an unlicensed facility in Plainview. Now, health records obtained by the Associated Press reveal troubling details about state inspections at the plant.

State health inspectors went to Plainview in January. What they discovered is that the facility was not licensed, and they say it had never been inspected during its entire time of operation, but the important thing for consumers is that inspectors did not turn up any Salmonella.

The Peanut Corporation of America's plant in Plainview opened in March of 2005. NewsChannel 11 toured the facility five months later in August. The plant blanches, dries roasts, oil-roasts, and chops peanuts, then ships them to food companies across the country. At that time, the plant manager told us their main customers were ice cream manufacturers, bakeries, and candy stores. Now, the question is how did this facility go four years without an inspection?

State inspector Patrick Moore wrote "I was not aware this plant was in operation" in his report. The Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts reports the plant is registered with them to do business as Plainview Peanut Company L.L.C., but the state inspection reports that the company "was unable to present evidence at the time of the inspection of a current food manufacturer's license."

The FDA reports the facility was registered with them as a food processing plant. Federal inspectors also visited the facility after the state inspection. Their report also found no Salmonella.

The Texas State Health Department does report that since the January 12th inspection, the facility is subject to a complaint. They would not go into detail on that with the Associated Press, but they say the facility will be inspected again in the coming weeks.  NewsChannel 11 spoke with Plant Manager Jesus Garrocho Tuesday afternoon. He told us all questions had to go through their corporate office. We left a message, but did not receive a call back by news time.

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